Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Fabian Linde(Uppsala University, Sweden)

Yulia Prozorova (Sociological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences)

Mikhail Maslovskii (Sociological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences)

Panel abstract: "Civilizational Perspectives of Russian Culture, Politics and Society"

Civilizational approaches to Russian culture, politics and society have been associated mostly with theories of 'historical cycles' worked out in late 19th and the first half of the 20th century. More recently considerable attention has been devoted to different versions of 'neo-Eurasianism'. In addition, the notion of 'clash of civilizations' prposed by Samuel Huntington became prominent in the political discourse in Russia in the 1990s. At the same time the concept of civilization is discussed widely in today's historical sociology. A specific school of 'civilizational analysis' that draws on the ideas of Shmuel Eisenstadt emerged in the end of the 1990s. This perspective has influenced some new trends in sociology of religion, political sociology and international relations theory.

Fabian Linde's paper At the Sources of the Russian Civilizational Turn: Samuel P. Huntington's Civilizational Paradigm examines the Russian government's civilizational discourse in the light of Huntington's paradigm. It demonstrates that Huntington has been a crucial reference point throughout the years, not least for Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov personally. Importantly, Huntington set his mark on the government's public espousal of the notion of civilizational diversity around 2008, with important consequences for how this discourse was formulated in the future. A comparison with Huntington reveals not only substantial commonalities but also a few issues where the Russian authorities diverge from Huntington. The overall conclusion, however, is that Huntington's prediction about a surge in 'civilizational consciousness' turned out to be, in the case of Russia, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yulia Prozorova's paper Intercivilizational Encounter' with the West: Political Discourse and Post-Soviet Version of Modernity in Russia examines the Russian project of modernization whose distinct components arose mainly from the reflection of the Western variant of modernity. The post-Soviet 'encounter' with Western modernity and the reception of the Western cultural and institutional structures are seen as a crucial driving force for modernization and transformation processes in Russia. The paper focuses on the Russian political discourse concerning reinterpretation and contestation of the cultural and institutional patterns of Western modernity that uncover tensions and controversies within society and contribute to the formation of the post-Soviet version of modernity.

Mikhail Maslovskii's paper Cultural Sociology, Civilizational Analysis and Post-Soviet Studies discusses the relationship between the 'strong programme' in cultural sociology elaborated by Jeffrey Alexander and civilizational analysis as a paradigm of historical sociology. Within the school of civilizational analysis a distinction is made between the theoretical approaches offered by Shmuel Eisenstadt and Johann Arnason. It is argued that Arnason's version of civilizational analysis is particularly relevant for understanding the transformation processes in post-Soviet Russian society.